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We’re taking free school meals to next level: FG

The federal government has assured that it is taking the National Home Grown School Feeding Programme (NHGSFP) to the next level, as World Food Programme (WFP) offers ICT equipment to promote nutrition education.

Sadiya Farouq, the Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, gave the assurance in a statement issued by Halima Oyelade, her Special Assistant on Corporate Communication, on Wednesday in Abuja.

“WFP is backing the next stage with a significant transfer of ICT equipment. This includes tablets with access to the PLUS Schools Menus – a free tool to help state Nutrition Officers design nutritious menus for schools,” Ms Farouq said.

She noted that “the hardware will not only support the ministry’s efforts to digitalise its monitoring and evaluation system but also enable the national rollout of the PLUS School Menu Tool developed by WFP to standardise cost-effective menu development.”

Ms Farouq explained that the next level would boost the local economy and increase school enrolment and attendance among primary school pupils.

“The results from a joint assessment conducted in the first quarter of 2021 to identify ways of improving, scaling-up, and sustaining the NHGSFP showed success and the need to enhance significant improvement and gains,” she added. “The programme promotes nutrition, education, and better eating habits and also encourages the diversification of production with a special emphasis on local crops.

The minister also mentioned that by 2021, over nine million pupils in 53,000 public primary schools were served meals, making it one of the largest school feeding programmes in Africa.

Ms Farouq stated it also led to a significant increase in school enrollment across the country, adding that the programme had provided the much-needed boost to local economies by buying the products of smallholder farmers and providing jobs to more than 107,000 cooks from low-income families.

“In line with one of the key pillars for sustaining the NHGSFP, several partnerships have been realised across various relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies of government,” said Ms Farouq. “The technical support from the WFP is therefore timely, relevant and well appreciated.”

(NAN) 

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